Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday Floyd - 2/13/15

Happy Friday everyone and this week's reminder that it's the weekend comes in the form of the great PF song "On the Turning Away". This song is off the album "A Momentary Lapse of Reason" which was the first Pink Floyd album to not feature Roger Waters. His departure from the band meant losing the creative force behind the band's soaring success at the time. With guitar master David Gilmour at the helm for AMLOR, more of the other member's creativity was able to shine.

The lyrics deal with the topic of looking away from those in adverse situations and not concerning yourself with other's struggles regardless of what they may be. The ending of the song is a strong statement declaring that "it's not enough just to stand and stare" challenging those listening to help everyone around them.

The below video is from PF's Live in Venice concert video from 1989. The concert setting was one of the most unique in music history as the band performed on a floating stage and the majority of the crowd were in tethered boats floating in front of the stage.

Happy 45th Birthday Heavy Metal!

Heavy metal, as in the genre, turns 45 years old today. It's no secret that Black Sabbath were the fathers of heavy metal and their debut album, titled "Black Sabbath" was released on this day in 1970 making it 45 years old today. Countless numbers of bands that realized that down tuned guitars sounded good and everyone put their own spin on it from there. They didn't even know what they were creating when they created it, but now there are thousands of bands that consider themselves heavy metal all over the world. Heavy metal has grown into countless numbers of sub-genres and cultures and just think it all started because Tony Iommi chopped off his fingertips on his fret hand. If you don't know the finger story, watch this.

Fun fact about the album Black Sabbath by Black Sabbath is that it was recorded on one day in a single 12 hour recording session. The next day when it was being finished and finalized, they played a gig in Switzerland.

Without further adieu, the song that started it all, Black Sabbath by Black Sabbath off Black Sabbath.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

TT5 - Best Frontmen

The frontman fulfills such an important role; they have to sing, handle the eyes and attnetion of the crowd at all times, sometimes play an instrument, and most importantly keep the fans engaged during the entirety of a performance. There are plenty of examples of frontmen (and women) doing a few of these things well, but it's rare to find someone who does all of these things well. The hardest thing for most to do is grabbing the attention of the fans and keeping it until the end of the show. The difference of having a great frontman is the difference between selling out a headlining tour and being an opener on someone else's tour. Just like in football where having a good quarterback is key to success, having a great face of the band is crucial to taking a band to their highest potential.

5) James Hetfield
The Metallica front man has a "disadvantage" to the rest of the people on this list, he plays rhythm guitar. James is consistently high energy and a master at putting sing-a-longs and shout-backs into his songs to keep the crowd involved in every show.

4) Rob Halford
Riding a motorcycle on stage. Creating the "look" of heavy metal (black leather and studs). Singing better than most anyone else on the planet. Handling plenty of controversy over the years. Helping put heavy metal in the forefront of pop culture. These are just some of the many accomplishments of Rob Halford of Judas Priest. Oh and he's 63 and still sounds amazing.

3) David Lee Roth
Besides being an incredible talented singer, Diamond Dave is more known for is stage acrobatics and antics. He performed as if he had more energy than anyone else in the arena and was always moving and singing his heart out. There is never a dull moment at a concert that David Lee Roth is on stage. He was the leader of one of the biggest bands of the 80s (and all time) and putting David Lee Roth on this list is in no way a knock on any of his successors in Van Halen.

2) Ozzy Osbourne
As the first heavy metal singer, Ozzy didn't have any example to base his style on. He helped usher in a new genre that was heavier and deeper than any of the rock music at the time. He is controversial, entertaining, talented, and most of all trail-blazing. After his departure from Black Sabbath, he maintained his popularity by launching a highly successful solo career. Oh and yes he did bite the head off a bat while on stage. How's that for entertaining and controversial?

1) Bruce Dickinson
Bruce was brought into Iron Maiden in order to help propel them to new heights and that he did. He understood that in order to take Maiden from a club band to an arena band he as the frontman needed to be more than just a singer, he needed to entertain and keep your eyes on the stage at all time. In the times before huge video screens, he would exaggerate his movements and literally run all over the stage, making sure that even those in the last rows could see him. Don't forget, he did all this while belting out some of the best vocals in all of heavy metal.

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Grammys Rant

This is not a retrospective jab at the history of bad decisions by The Grammys, this is simply an opinion that I'm sure is shared by many of the 2014/2015 Grammy awards.

Let's start at an obvious point, the award for the Best Metal Performance. And the nominees are:

  • "The Last in Line" - Tenacious D. Really? Nothing against Tenacious D, they brought Dio to a whole fanbase and generation that would've never have even heard of him. They have a special place in the heart of all rock and metal fans, but the fact of the matter is they are a comedy act. Forgetting all that, the song is a cover song. 
  • "Neon Knights" - Anthrax. Anthrax is most definitely deserving of a Grammy nom, but not for a 35 year old Black Sabbath song. Why didn't the Grammys care when they released one of the most critically acclaimed metal albums of 2011 or any of the other tremendous and pioneering metal work they have produced over the years? 
  • "High Road" - Mastodon. I agree with this one. It's not the best song off the album, but hey beggers can't be choosers. At least they gave Mastodon (one of the most important heavy metal bands of the 2000s) some credit.
  • "Heartbreaker" - Motorhead. I don't have a problem at all with the song or the band getting the nomination. My problem here lies with the fact that this song was released in 2013, therefore making it a song that should have been nominated at LAST YEARS Grammys. Clearly the committee that picks these was grasping at straws here and couldn't find any other act to give a nomination to this year (see below). 
  • "The Negative One" - Slipknot. They're back and on a tear. They're killing it live and the album kicks ass. The Knot deserves the nomination. I fear though that the people that pick these simply picked the first song released from this album just because it's Slipknot and didn't actually care to listen to it and judge it for themselves. 
And the Grammy goes to......Tenacious D. Congrats to them. There are just more deserving metal acts. You guys are great though. 

Here are some tremendous albums that were all released in 2014 that should've gotten some credit from "the biggest names in music":
"Clearing the Path to Ascend" Yob
"Bloodstone & Diamonds" Machine Head
"Blood In, Blood Out" Exodus
"Foundations of Burden" Pallbearer
"Redeemer of Souls" Judas Priest
"Pale Communion" Opeth
Just to name a few.........

Moving on now to the Rock category. I actually completely agree with the nominations and winners for Best Rock Performance (Congrats Jack White). Somehow though "Lazaretto" didn't win Best Rock Song as he was beaten out by a Paramore song. I don't understand the logic. Best Rock Album is a touchy subject for me this year. Beck's "Morning Phase" won. I'm starting to think that he only won because they were giving him Album of the Year so therefore it had to win every other category it was nominated for. The problem is that it's not a Rock album. If that's rock, then we need to redefine what Rock music actually is. Unfortunately the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and MTV (combining rock and pop into the same category) have already done that for us and it isn't pretty. Side note, how does Jack White get nominated for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance, but Lazaretto (the album) not get the Best Rock Album nom? Did they even listen to it? It was incredible and a whole hell of a lot better than that U2 album that they gave away for free. 

On the positive side, huge congrats to Beck for winning Album of the Year for "Morning Phase". He's a real artist who writes every single lyric and plays most every instrument on his records. This credit and validation is long overdue for an artist with the incredible history of Beck. 

That's enough ranting for one night. I'm sure if I was able to dive into the other categories, I could find plenty more glaring mistakes by the almighty Grammy committee. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Friday Floyd - 2/6/15

I usually try to expand your PF horizons with my Friday Floyd, but this week, I'm going with a classic. This week's Friday Floyd is the very popular song "Hey You". This is the first song of disc / album 2 of The Wall. Many casual Pink Floyd and even classic rock in general fans know this song very well.

The song fits well as the halfway point of the album due to it's content. The Wall is about closing off from society and reality by putting up a wall (see the connection?), but "Hey You" is sung from the standpoint of an individual who is desperately trying for human interaction.

When The Wall is performed live, a literal wall is being constructed during the first half of the show that is completed on the last note of "Goodbye Cruel World". The next song is "Hey You" and is performed by the band as they are completely hidden behind the wall.

Enjoy "Hey You", but don't forget to always Pink Floyd responsibly and listen to the entire album at some point as well.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

TT5 - Top Hard Rock / Metal Albums of 1980

There was a time when all music was considered new and even some of the albums that we now consider game changers and classics were at one point brand spanking new and hadn't even yet stood the test of time. Now that we have had 35 years to digest this music, below is the definitive list of the best hard rock and heavy metal releases of the year 1980.

5) Animal Magnetism - Scorpions
Known nowadays more for it's controversial cover than it's musical content, Animal Magnetism was the seventh studio album for German band Scorpions and released just as they were picking up steam. "Make it Real" and "The Zoo" are the classics off this album. The mid to late 80s are when Scorpions really hit the big time and were easily one of the biggest bands in the world.

4) The Game - Queen
It's hard to believe that a band as huge, influential, and well liked as Queen has only had one #1 album in the US, but it's true and 1980's The Game is that album. "Play the Game", "Another One Bites the Dust", and "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" are some of the most loved songs by one of history's most loved bands. Queen is still touring with Adam Lambert filling in for the late, great Freddie Mercury and putting on an amazing show (just ask my mom!).

3) Strong Arm of the Law & Wheels of Steel - Saxon
Saxon had such a good year in 1980 that they get two albums ranked. How can you choose between the two? These were their second and third studio albums and they were released within 4 months of each other. Some bands worry about the sophomore slump, but clearly this is not a problem that Saxon had. The classics from these albums just keep on going: "Motorcycle Man", "747 Strangers in the Night", "Wheels of Steel", "Heavy Metal Thunder", "20,000 Ft", "Dallas 1PM". Most of you probably have not listened to these albums in their entirety. Change that........soon.


2) Ace of Spades - Motorhead
What can you say about the album that cemented Motorhead's place in heavy metal history? Even if the album was just one song and that song was "Ace of Spades", it'd still be on this list. Motorhead's legacy is probably one of the best in metal as they (really Lemmy) found their (his) style early on and stuck with it for 40 years. Besides the title track, songs like "Love Me Like a Reptile", "(We Are) The Road Crew", and "The Chase is Better Than the Catch" are still played live by the band today.

1) Back in Black - AC/DC
The story of Back in Black has hit legendary status at this point. How in the world could a band not only retain their style and image after losing someone as iconic as Bon Scott? Brian Johnson is how. This was his first album singing for the band as they came back with a huge right hook after losing the singer that had been a humongous part of their success to that point. The entire album is classic and frankly I shouldn't have to name any of the hit songs that came from it. Just listen to the whole thing.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday Floyd - 1/30/15

Happy Friday. Today's Friday Floyd is a deep cut as it appears on the soundtrack album Obscured by Clouds. I have mentioned this album before in the past telling you that you have to listen to it cover to cover. If you haven't done so yet, this is is your not so friendly reminder.

The Gold It's In The... is an extremely unique song for Floyd for 3 reasons. The first reason is the tempo of the song. The song is very upbeat which is rare to find in the Floyd catalog as most of their compositions are long, drawn out, complex arrangements. This one though seems as if maybe, juuuust maybe, David Gilmour has a smile on his face and a bounce in his step when he's singing. The second reason that this song is unique is the lyrical content. Most PF songs deal with very heavy topics such as life and death, greed, and coming of age. TGIIT... is a story about a man who just loves adventure and doesn't care about what he finds. He wants to explore and come upon treasures, but has no interest in keeping them. The video below includes the lyrics so you'll be able to see for yourself. The final reason that this song is a rarity for Pink Floyd is the fact that Rick Wright (probably to the delight of Roger) is not featured on this song. There are no keyboards or piano anywhere in this song as it is entirely composed of guitar, bass, and drums.

Enjoy The Gold It's In The..... and listen to Obscured by Clouds already!!